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Bill Pullman
Mar 30, 2014


I started a workplace sketching group that meets once a week in a meeting room. It's cool because the people who have showed interest and have shown up are from a completely random cross-section of careers but either want to learn to draw or haven't drawn since they were much younger. But one thing I quickly learned is that I need a plan. I'm not a teacher and don't consider myself any better than anyone else but since I arranged it I owe it to them to offer them some structure so we aren't just sitting there staring at each other. They're even nervous to draw people at all so we need some other stuff to do as we work up to drawing each other.

Anyone have experience with anything like this?

Some ideas that we've tossed around:

- Assorted still life subjects (blocks and balls, fruit and vegetables, flowers)
- Short sketches (30 sec, 1 min, 5 min), working up to longer sketches
- Finishing each other's drawings

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a hole-y ghost
May 10, 2010



My two cents:

I'd recommend subject setups that last the whole session time. This is because you'll have a big mix of experience levels; beginning drawers need a lot of time or they'll get too nervous. In fact, to start off, I'd try to set up the same subject in the same position a few sessions in a row, if at all possible.

If someone finishes with a drawing early, you should encourage them to start a new one from a new angle. Also encourage people to start new drawings often, rather than spend too much time fixing drawings.

Ease people into sitting as close to the subject (and each other) as they comfortably can. Beginning drawers always try to sit too far from the subject but if you force them into it they'll get uncomfortable.

You can do still lifes. I'd start with geometric casts like blocks, balls, and cones with one light source only. If you can get your hands on them, I'd work my way up to plaster sculptural casts of hands, feet, and faces. Work with what you have, though. Vases and pots with no color variation are a good option if available.

I'd avoid fruits and flowers and that sort of thing for now—you want to guide them into an understanding of form and how to render it, and introducing too much color and surface variation makes that difficult.

When your group is feeling more comfortable with drawing more complex shapes, you could move onto having them draw each other. Break the group into pairs of two. If there's an odd number, have one group of three. Have them take turns: one poses for half the session, the other draws.

a hole-y ghost
May 10, 2010



Oh, and also, don't be hesitant to take control as "teacher" or leader of the group or whatever, regardless of what your relative skill level is. The group will need someone directing stuff, or else the people who are the most experienced at drawing will tend to elbow out anyone with less confidence in drawing.

Bill Pullman
Mar 30, 2014


Goddamn that's precisely the advise I was looking for. Thanks! I'll post about progress if people are interested. I'd love to see drawing groups pop up in corporate environments more often. I put this on our intranet and people in other countries are like "oh man I wish I could be there!" There's a real benefit I think.

a hole-y ghost
May 10, 2010



Cool, let us know how it goes and don't hesitate to ask anything else!

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a hole-y ghost
May 10, 2010



Oh, and I almost forgot: here's a super nice video on this very subject.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ET8_aaX5u0

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